The Ultimate East Coast Fall Foliage Guide

By Randy Yagi

In a matter of weeks if not days, the annual pilgrimage will begin on the East Coast to view the magnificent fall colors. Clearly among the world’s greatest destinations to witness one of nature’s most dazzling spectacles, the East Coast, in particular the New England states, will be poised to welcome those fall foliage enthusiasts that are often known as leaf peepers. While it’s no secret that New England is the most coveted region to embrace the changing of the leaves, there are many other notable spots along the East Coast that are also deserving of a journey, particularly for those who are venturing out on their very first fall excursion. The following is an informative guide to five of the best destinations on the East Coast to enjoy the fall foliage, including suggested itineraries and travel options.

Massachusetts

One of the world’s most alluring and most photographed destinations for fall foliage can be found in the stunning highlands region of Western Massachusetts known as The Berkshires. Located in the county that bears its name, The Berkshires is a must see for leaf peepers and will attract them en masse to scenic places like the town of Lenox, the enchanting Jacob’s Ladder Trail Scenic Byway and the town of North Adams, which happens to host its own Fall Foliage Parade in October. But the rest of the state also has its own share of extraordinary seasonal colors, such as along the Mohawk Trail in Central Massachusetts, the Cape Ann area north of Boston and even Boston itself in late October, with spots like Boston Common, the adjacent Boston Public Garden and the Back Bay Fens, in addition to Minute Man National Historical Park in neighboring Lexington.

Peak Foliage 

Western and Central Massachusetts – Mid-October

Central and Eastern Massachusetts – Mid to Late October

Suggested Trips

The Berkshires

Mohawk Trail

Cape Ann

Boston

Accommodations

Blantyre – Lenox

Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort – Lenox

Porches Inn – North Adams

Red Lion Inn – Stockbridge

Stonover Farm – Lenox

Events/Attractions

Fall Foliage Parade – North Adams

Mass MoCA – North Adams

Mohawk Trail State Forest – Charlemont

Norman Rockwell Museum – Stockbridge

The Mount – Lenox

 

RelatedFall Foliage: 5 Best East Coast Destinations To Catch The Fall Colors

New Hampshire

With more than two thirds of the state blanketed by forestland, New Hampshire is filled with embraceable natural beauty, particularly during the turning of the leaves. A captivating destination for leaf peepers from all over the world, the Granite State offers several distinctive regions in which to marvel at some of the most brilliant fall colors in the country, such as the Great North Woods, the famed White Mountains and the Lakes Region which includes Lake Winnipesaukee, largest in the state. Estimated peak of the regions of New Hampshire occur in a north to south direction, beginning in the Great North Wood with its inimitable seasonal colors along Kancamagus Highway, through the Lakes and culminating around Halloween in the Seacoast, with an exceptional late fall colors between Portsmouth and Seabrook Beach. In addition to Kancamagus Highway, Franconia Notch State Park, the Appalachian Trail and Mount Monadnock, superb fall foliage can be viewed along the Connecticut River Byway, Waterville Valley in Grafton County, Durgin Bridge near North Sandwich Village, the Belknap Mountains and Pawtuckaway State Park, among many others.

Peak Foliage

Northern Vermont – Late September to Early October

White Mountains – Early to Mid October

Southern Vermont – Mid to Late October

Suggested Trips

Appalachian Trail

Franconia Notch State Park

Kancamagus Highway

Lake Winnipesaukee

Mount Monadnock

Accommodations

Mills Falls at the Lake – Meredith

Omni Mount Washington Resort – Bretton Woods

Purity Spring Resort – Madison

The Manor on Golden Pond – Holderness

The Wentworth – Jackson Village

Selected Events/Attractions

Deerfield Fair – Deerfield

Mount Washington Cog Railway – Mount Washington

Warner Foliage Festival – Warner

Fall Foliage Festival – Waterville Valley

White Mountain National Forest

New York

The first hint of the fall foliage season has already begun around the northeastern section of New York, before it elegantly begins to spread towards the central and southern regions of the Empire State. One of the best spots to enjoy a striking splash of colors early on is the majestic Adirondack Mountains, hosting one of the longest fall foliage seasons in the country and providing breathtaking vistas at many notable places, including Lake Placid, Prospect Mountain and Lake Charles. Continuing into historic Saratoga Springs and John Boyd Thacher State Park, the spectacle continues magically across the Hudson Valley, while a vast canvas of burnt orange, yellow and red leaves from the deciduous trees blanket the famed Catskill Mountains. By mid-October, most all of central New York will reaches its peak colors, including the Finger Lakes wine country region, Niagara Falls and Letchworth State Park, known as the Grand Canyon of the East. A few weeks later, New York City will be among the final spots to enjoy the final yet brilliant stages of the state’s foliage season, with radiant leaf-strewn attractions like Central Park, New York Botanical Garden and the Staten Island Greenbelt.

Peak Foliage

Northern New York State – Late September to Early October

Central New York State – Early to Mid October

New York City – Late October to Early November

Suggested Trips

Adirondacks

Catskill Mountains

Finger Lakes

Hudson River Valley

Saratoga Springs

Accommodations

Adelphi Hotel – Saratoga Springs

Glenmere Mansion – Chester

Lake Placid Lodge – Lake Placid

Mohonk Mountain House – New Paltz

The Lodges at Cresthaven – Lake George

Selected Events/Attractions

Adirondack Balloon Festival – Queensbury

Fall Foliage Festival – Cohocton

Flaming Leaves Festival – Lake Placid

Fall Foliage Festival Port Jervis – Port Jervis

Saratoga DBA Fall Festival – Saratoga Springs

Vermont

No list of the East Coast’s best fall colors can truly be complete without including Vermont, whose name was derived from the French term for green mountain (Verd Mont). In fact, it is within the namesake Green Mountains where the most brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow are on full display, courtesy of the official state tree, the sugar maple. The changing of the colors typically begins around mid-September with peak foliage across must of the state during the first few weeks of October. Several spots provide leaf peepers sweeping views these dazzling fall colors as far as the eye can see and includes Bennington Battle Monument, Equinox Pond, Lake Champlain, and the Green Mountain Byway through Waterbury and Stowe.

Peak Foliage

Early to Mid October

Suggested Trips

Bennington

Ludlow

Manchester

Stowe/Waterbury

Waitsfield

Accommodations

Grafton Inn – Grafton

Rabbit Hill Inn – Lower Waterbury

Trapp Valley Lodge – Stowe

Twin Farms – Barnard

The Equinox – Manchester

Selected Events/Attractions

Billings Farm and Museum – Woodstock

Burke Fall Foliage Festival – East Burke

Elmore State Park – Lake Elmore

Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home – Manchester

Stowe Foliage Arts Festival – Stowe 

Virginia

Since it’s a known fact that “Virginia is for Lovers”, then one of the most romantic times of the year to visit the Old Dominion State is when the autumn leaves reaches its vivid peak colors. Although magnificent fall colors abound throughout Virginia, the distinctive Blue Ridge Mountains captures the state’s purest natural beauty, particularly along the famed namesake Blue Ridge Parkway, known as America’s longest linear park and extends 469 miles between Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. With the peak fall foliage typically occurring between mid and late October, visitors are expected to witness a cavalcade of seasonal colors and from multiple vantage points along what’s also known as America’s Favorite Drive, such as the James River, Peaks of Otter, the cities of Roanoke and Lexington, and Mabry Mill. As Virginia’s only national park, Shenandoah National Park is equally acclaimed for encapsulating views of lush fall colors via the 105-mile long Skyline Drive, with its easy access to the Appalachian Trail and exceptional viewing of the autumnal colors at places like Little Stairs Overlook, Stony Man Overlook and Pinnacles Overlook. In the latter half of October and into November, visitors can still enjoy the rustic colors in the state’s most prominent cities, including Norfolk particularly the the historic Norfolk Botanical Garden, Williamsburg and the Colonial Parkway, and the capital city of Richmond on Monument Avenue and the University of Richmond.

Peak Foliage

Western Virginia – Late September to Mid October

Central Virginia – Mid to Late October

Eastern Virginia – Late October

Suggested Trips

Big Walker Mountain Scenic Byway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Colonial Parkway – Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests

Shenandoah National Park

Accommodations

Jefferson Hotel – Richmond

Primland – Meadows of Dan

Skyland Resort – Shenandoah National Park

Williamsburg Inn – Williamsburg

Wintergreen Resort – Wintergreen

Selected Events/Attractions

Blue Ridge Folklife Festival – Ferrum

Fall Foliage Art Show – Waynesboro

Fall Foliage Shenandoah Bike Festival – Staunton

Richmond Folk Festival – Richmond

Town Point Wine Festival – Norfolk

 

Additional Information On Fall Foliage Tours 

Self-Guided Tour Information

The Berkshires

Discover New England

New England Fall Foliage Maps

Fall Foliage Network

Virginia Department of Forestry

Suggested Bus Tours

Atlas Cruise & Tours 

Brush Hill/Gray Line

Caravan 

Collette

Go Ahead Tours

Suggested Train Tours

Adirondack Scenic Railroad – Utica, New York

Green Mountain Railroad – Burlington, Chester, Vermont

Mount Washington Cog Railway – Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

Saratoga and North Creek Railroad – Saratoga Springs, New York

Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad – Lincoln, New Hampshire

Amtrak Train Service

Adirondack

Cardinal

Vermonter

Amtrak Vacations Boston Fall Foliage

Amtrak Vacations New England Fall Foliage

Boat Tours

Classic Harbor Line

Cruise Mount Washington

Essex River Cruises & Charters

Portsmouth Harbor Cruises

USA River Cruises

 

Selected Cruise Lines

American Cruise Lines

Celebrity Cruises

Crystal Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Royal Caribbean 

Related4 Great Fall Getaways For Every Kind Of Vacation

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